Houdaille Industries, Inc. v. Edwards, No. 54949

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtALDERMAN; ENGLAND
Citation374 So.2d 490
PartiesHOUDAILLE INDUSTRIES, INC., Petitioner, v. Eddie EDWARDS, Sr., etc., et al., Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. 54949
Decision Date05 July 1979

Page 490

374 So.2d 490
HOUDAILLE INDUSTRIES, INC., Petitioner,
v.
Eddie EDWARDS, Sr., etc., et al., Respondents.
No. 54949.
Supreme Court of Florida.
July 5, 1979.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 28, 1979.

Page 491

Marion R. Shepard of Mathews, Osborne, Ehrlich, McNatt, Gobelman & Cobb, Jacksonville, for petitioner.

S. William Fuller, Jr. of Fuller & Johnson, Tallahassee, for respondents.

ALDERMAN, Justice.

We have for review the decision of the District Court of Appeal, First District, in Home Indemnity Co. v. Edwards, 360 So.2d 1112 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978), which conflicts with Stuart v. Hertz Corporation, 351 So.2d 703 (Fla.1977), and Spring Lock Scaffolding Rental Co. v. Charles Poe Masonry, Inc., 358 So.2d 84 (Fla.3d DCA 1978), 1 thereby vesting

Page 492

jurisdiction in this Court pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(3), Florida Constitution.

The issue before us is whether a manufacturer of a defective product that contributes to an on-the-job injury of a workman may seek common law indemnity from the employer of the injured workman. 2 We conclude that, absent a special relationship between the manufacturer and the employer which would make the manufacturer only vicariously, constructively, derivatively, or technically liable for the wrongful acts of the employer, there is no right of indemnification on the part of the manufacturer against the employer. We hold that the trial court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of Houdaille on Florida Wire's third-party complaint for indemnification, and we quash the decision of the district court.

Houdaille Industries, the employer, manufactures reinforced concrete beams using steel wire cable which is made by Florida Wire and Cable Co. During the process of manufacturing the concrete beams, the steel cable is stretched through a mold into which the concrete is poured. Eddie Edwards, an employee of Houdaille, was killed when the cable broke while it was under stress. Houdaille paid Edwards' survivors the workmen's compensation benefits required by law. Edwards' personal representative then sued Florida Wire for his wrongful death and alleged that Florida Wire had breached its implied warranty of fitness and that this breach was the direct and proximate cause of Edwards' death.

Florida Wire filed a third-party complaint for indemnification against Houdaille and alleged that, at the time of the accident, Houdaille was actively negligent because it failed to properly conduct the detensioning process which was used to remove one of the strands from the pouring bed, because it failed to properly insert the strand back in the jack used in the detensioning process and improperly installed the jack to the strand of wire which resulted in misalignment of the jack and subsequent release of the strand, and because it failed to properly instruct its employees as to the detensioning process. Florida Wire alleged that if it was negligent, its negligence was merely passive. It did not, however, plead that its liability, if any, would be solely vicarious, constructive, derivative, or technical and would be based on the wrongdoing of Houdaille. Florida Wire further sought indemnity on the basis of a breach of an alleged independent duty owed to it by Houdaille.

Houdaille's motion for summary judgment on the third-party complaint was granted by the trial court for the reason that if Florida Wire was liable at all to the plaintiff, Edwards, its liability flows from a breach of warranty or some other wrongdoing on its part which could only be characterized as active negligence.

On appeal, the district court reversed, holding that a manufacturer of a product, who is sued for breach of warranty by one injured by the product, may bring a third-party complaint for indemnity against the employer of the injured party. The district court, focusing on the wrongdoing of the employer rather than the fault of the manufacturer, determined that material issues of fact precluding summary judgment exist as to whether the employer was guilty of negligence in the form of misuse of the product manufactured by Florida Wire. It effectually used the traditional common law indemnity classifications of active and passive negligence as a...

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208 practice notes
  • Maseda v. Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Nos. 87-5866
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 19, 1988
    ...the indemnitee is wholly without fault and is haled into court solely due to the fault of another. Houdaille Indus., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490 (Fla.1979). This implies that an indemnitee may not recover attorney's fees incurred to defend claims of direct...
  • Parks v. Union Carbide Corp., No. 61468
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1980
    ...joint tortfeasors and rejects weighing the relative fault of tortfeasors on a claim for indemnity. Houdaille Industries, Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490 (Fla.1979). 8 The question whether the employer's fault should be determined in order to fix the non-employer defendant's measure of liabil......
  • Pycsa Panama, S.A. v. Tensar Earth Technologies, No. 06-20624-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • April 16, 2008
    ...and Georgia recognize a claim for products liability against the manufacturer of component parts. See Houdaille Indus., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490, 493 (Fla.1979); Scheman-Gonzalez v. Saber Mfg. Co., 816 So.2d 1133, 1140 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Hall v. Scott U.S.A., 198 Ga. App. 197, 400 S......
  • Sanislo v. Give Kids the World, Inc., No. SC12–2409.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 12, 2015
    ...by him but which, as between himself and another, should have been discharged by the other.” (citing Houdaille Indust., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490, 492–93 (Fla.1979) )). These contracts are typically negotiated at arm's length between sophisticated business entities and can be viewed as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
208 cases
  • Maseda v. Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Nos. 87-5866
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 19, 1988
    ...the indemnitee is wholly without fault and is haled into court solely due to the fault of another. Houdaille Indus., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490 (Fla.1979). This implies that an indemnitee may not recover attorney's fees incurred to defend claims of direct...
  • Parks v. Union Carbide Corp., No. 61468
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1980
    ...joint tortfeasors and rejects weighing the relative fault of tortfeasors on a claim for indemnity. Houdaille Industries, Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490 (Fla.1979). 8 The question whether the employer's fault should be determined in order to fix the non-employer defendant's measure of liabil......
  • Pycsa Panama, S.A. v. Tensar Earth Technologies, No. 06-20624-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • April 16, 2008
    ...and Georgia recognize a claim for products liability against the manufacturer of component parts. See Houdaille Indus., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490, 493 (Fla.1979); Scheman-Gonzalez v. Saber Mfg. Co., 816 So.2d 1133, 1140 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Hall v. Scott U.S.A., 198 Ga. App. 197, 400 S......
  • Sanislo v. Give Kids the World, Inc., No. SC12–2409.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 12, 2015
    ...by him but which, as between himself and another, should have been discharged by the other.” (citing Houdaille Indust., Inc. v. Edwards, 374 So.2d 490, 492–93 (Fla.1979) )). These contracts are typically negotiated at arm's length between sophisticated business entities and can be viewed as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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